Thursday, January 31, 2013

I present to you...

A 12 Month Evolution of Hair:

4 days.

1 month.

2 months.

3 months.

4 months.

5 months.

6 months.

7 months.

8 months.

9 months.

10 months.

11 months.

And 12 months!

Together, we managed such an important part of African American culture with minimal tears and much success this first year. I hope I can keep figuring it out as it gets longer and longer!

Happy birthday, Baby Girl.
I'll write more about you as a big one year old later :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Strange Phenomenon, Part 2

On October 21, 2011 I wrote the following:

When Simon was first potty trained, I knew that if I ever said anything like, "he hasn't had an accident in forever," I'd be cleaning up pee by sunset. How did I know? Because it happened pretty much every time.

I took this lesson to heart when it came to vomit. Whenever anyone would discuss their kid's vomiting (normal discussion, right?) I would do my best to stay quiet because I didn't want to jinx the puke-free streak we've had since the days of baby spit up.

So early last week when I was discussing with a friend what seemed like a lot or a little in regards to the number of times for a child to vomit in their young lifetimes, I said it. I said something on the lines of "anything seems like a lot I guess because we've been lucky so far...but mark my words, now by the end of the week he'll probably puke." I even went as far as to call my sister to tell her I'd have a puker by the end of the week because I opened my big fat mouth. 

But, alas, I was wrong. The puke didn't come until the end of the following week....

I titled the above post "A Strange Phenomenon" and today we have "A Strange Phenomenon, Part 2." 

A week and a half ago we were at a friend's house for dinner when Simon said his stomach didn't feel well. My friend has a serious puke phobia and I could see a hint of panic on her face so I decided to try to ease her worry by telling her that Simon really hasn't puked since he was a baby, outside of one time when he puked up phlegm during a coughing fit (which is what the above story was referencing). This seemed to make her feel better, but I proceeded to knock on wood profusely knowing that it wouldn't make a lick of difference since puke was now on the way. 

And sure enough. A mere 11 days after I opened my big mouth, my son puked actual food particles up for the first time. Sixteen hours after that, Cecie blew partially curdled milk and edamame chunks on her wall, floor, mattress and crib.

A strange phenomenon, indeed. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Decisions

Sometimes being a parent is hard. You want what is best for your kids, for you, for your family as a whole...and for your pocketbook.


Bryan was Catholic school kid...from kindergarten through his last day of his senior year of high school. So, naturally, since that was his upbringing you can guess what kind of school he has always wanted to send his own kids to. Fair enough. I, on the other hand, only went to Catholic school for a few years and then finished out the rest of my education at public schools. I maintain that I turned out just fine (though I supposed this is debatable).

Pretty much since the day Simon was born, we have gone back and forth about where to send Simon for grade school. When Cecilia came around we thought public was going to be the best option if for no other reason than she would be less likely to be the only black kid in her class. We pretty much stopped the discussion right there. 

This weekend everything changed, though, and we realized this discussion was far from over.

We went to a birthday party Saturday morning where we talked with a few moms who had kids in the same class at a local lutheran school. After the party, I lamented to Bryan about how I wish we had a sense of community at Simon's school. I wish I knew some of the parents. I wish I knew some of the kids. I wish I knew his teachers for crying out loud. So we talked more about private school, because these things kind of come with the private school territory. We talked about it in depth for an hour drive to Madison and back. 

Then in the evening (it was a busy day) we visited a friend's house and she said, "I know you are planning on going to public school so I don't want you to feel like I'm pressuring you, but I just wanted to let you know there is an open house at St. Mary's tomorrow." Ironic that you bring this up, today of all days, since today is the first time we have mulled this over in almost a year. 

So for the past couple of months we have been trying to get to church more. We made a point of going yesterday morning and what was the homily devoted to? Catholic schools. Are you kidding me?? An eighth grader read an essay about how much he loved his school. The priest had every kid stand who went to the school and, of course, we were surrounded. Then he had everyone who ever attended Catholic school stand up...there were a lot. He went on to talk about all those people who were standing and the sacrifices their parents made (or were currently making) to give them the educational experience they wanted for their kids. He talked about not going on vacations or buying a new gadget so that you could make it work. 

I've never felt more spoken to at church in my entire life. Seriously, what are the odds that this would be the message on this day? It overwhelmed me. {As a side, my sister had a similar moment about something totally different at the exact same time that day...what are the odds of that too??}

So after a strange weekend of signs (which I rarely, if ever, rely on), we feel compelled to reconsider.

Does this mean we are registering Simon for kindergarten at St. Mary's tomorrow? No, but it's looking more and more likely every day.

Some decisions are just kind of hard...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fun in the Sun

I know I've mentioned this about 18 times here, but I'm not quite ready to shut up about it yet. Maybe this 19th time will do the trick? The truth is, I'm just not used to it yet.

It'll be old news soon enough, I promise. Watching Simon learn to feed himself and use his jaw to chew literally used to make me emotional (look at him, he's CHEWING!). So it's entirely possible that my sense of "pride and joy" is a bit overinflated. My point, however, is that his ability to chew has more or less become old news over the years (if you can believe that) so I'm pretty sure his ability to read will follow suit at some point.

Finally, I reach my point. Reading. He's making so much progress every day and MAN is it more exciting than chewing! I'm just not over it yet. One day I will be I'm sure, but not today.

I posted a video of him reading about a month ago, but he was way too distracted by me with my phone in his face so we didn't get too far. This time I was out of his line of vision so he didn't even notice me. It's a little hard to hear still, but you get the idea :)

What kinds of things (big or small) have your kids done that have left you bubbling over??

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Impromptu Pig Tails

Cecilia's hairstyle from this past weekend didn't last very long, as predicted. It was looking rough yesterday already so after dinner while the boys were swimming at the Y I decided it would be a bath night....

I took a deep breath to mentally prepare for the adventure ahead. I then, predictably, wrangled a Limp Noodling, Planking, Broken Leg Crying baby into the tub. I was sweating by the time I got her sitting down. I have no idea why she is suddenly so against bath time, but let me tell you, it doesn't make me appreciate this special time too much (not that I cared much for it in the first place). Eventually I got her settled down and got the job done as quickly as possible. 

Taking the time to detangle her hair in the bath was not going to happen, so I got her ready and into the high chair she went. She got a hold of my keys and was so still and content. I decided to push my luck and start twisting up her hair after it was all combed through. I got a bunch of twists done that lead to a piggy tail before calling it a night. Who knew my keys could be so useful for doing a baby's hair?

When Bryan got home he asked if there was a reason all my car doors were open. Yes. Yes, there was a perfectly good reason.

So this morning we got the other piggy done during breakfast and voilĂ 
Spontaneity and patience. Two things this child continues to teach me :)

Check out those ringlets!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Fun Factor

There are so many fun things about having kids. They are cute, funny and in a constant state of learning which is fascinating to watch. So while Cecie is all of those things, she is also an 11 month old keen on asserting her independence. The fun factor has its limits with a few things these days...

Diaper Changes. Unless there is a bottle in Cecie's mouth she will be trying to escape the diaper change. Pinning her down with one leg so I can get this task accomplished makes me feel like a big bully, but I'm just not sure how else to get this particular job done without getting poop on my floor. Which has happened. More than once. 

The Limp Noodle. You know, when your kid doesn't want to be held so they lift their arms up and go completely slack in your arms (sometimes adding flair by mercilessly wiggling and thrashing) so you have no choice but to put them down or drop them. Either way, they get what they want. Cecie has mastered this. Absolutely mastered it. 

The Plank. In contrast to The Limp Noodle, we're also dealing with The Plank. She uses this method when she doesn't want to get strapped into her carseat or stroller. I don't think I need to expand further. You've either been there or can imagine how fun it is to get a completely rigid baby strapped into something that requires her body to bend at the waist. As luck should have it, she managed to combine The Plank with The Limp Noodle while I was trying to get her into the shopping cart for the first time ever this morning. And here I was thinking we weren't going to go through grocery shopping hell with this one. I'm an idiot. 

Whining.  Cecie may or may not turn her head when she hears "Big Whiner," because she's called Big Whiner several times a day (but only when she has it coming). Along these lines, her first song might just be "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake. I sing it to her often (I'm not the only one, right??).

The Broken Leg Cry. When general whining is boring her, she resorts to The Broken Leg Cry. She won't hesitate to play this card if I take something away from her, I put her in her pack and play, I look at her the wrong way, I suggest nap time, I try to get her to stand up, I pick her up, I put her in the bath, I don't get her food fast enough, I don't refill her bottle fast enough. Et cetera. You never know when it will strike, she always keeps us guessing.

The Baby Island. There is a general rule of thumb we follow when going out to dinner lately: the smallest person has the most space at the table. She becomes her very own Baby Island. If anything is in her reach it WILL land on the floor so she has nothing but free space as far as her little fingers can reach. So what happens? Without fail one of the rest of us will spill something because we are so cramped together, thereby negating the effectiveness of creating Baby Island in the first place.

Like I said, the fun factor does have its limits.

BUT we have a baby who is almost a year old and I'm pretty certain the above nonsense comes with the territory. So we just take the crazy with the cute and call it a day!

Here are Simon and Cecie at about the same age, surely pulling the same kinds of crap :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh, Beautiful Girl.

Sometimes I look at my kids and have to stop to marvel at how beautiful I find them. I've gone back to my post about Simon turning five about 47 times because those pictures of him make me so so happy. And the girl? My God. I could never get tired of looking at that face.

As the saying goes, there is only one most beautiful baby in the world and every mother has him. Isn't that so perfect? It's exactly right.

The real reason I got my camera out today wasn't to capture beauty as much as it was to document our latest hairstyle, but then we wound up with this:

And this:

And this:

...and her cuteness smacked me right in the face, making me think of the aforementioned saying for the millionth time.

Her hair, on the other hand, isn't at it's finest today. I attempted to do something with it yesterday but her incessant shaking of the head in defiance wasn't conducive to braiding so I surrendered. We tried again this morning and she was slightly more agreeable, but doing more than what we got just wasn't in the cards. I can already tell the front twist is too loose in one spot, but I'm hoping in vain that it will last the week.

I'm also hoping that her blatant intolerance for hair time this week was not a precursor of what's to come over the next couple of years as a toddler. She's going to love sitting there for an hour or more every week to get her hair done, right?

Right. She's going to love it.

You never know how it's going to go, though. Last week she sat long enough for me to accomplish this:

I was happy with how it turned out, but knew better than to try again. There seems to be an art in reading her mood and knowing what is (or isn't) in the cards. Anyway, the next two pictures were taken LITERALLY within seconds of this first picture. I have no idea what spooked her, but whatever it was, she got over it pretty quick. Weirdo :)

So there you have it, two more hairstyles in the bucket. And one more ridiculous blog about how cute a mother thinks her children are. Lucky for me, this is my space and I can brag about them as much as I damn well please :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013


{Warning: LONG post ahead.}

Yesterday our little guy became a big five year old. I'll spare you the I can't believe it and how did we get here and where has the time gone lamenting, but really I can't believe it and how did we get here and where has the time gone??

Okay now that's out of my system...

To celebrate his day of birth, we decided to take him out to breakfast (he wanted french toast) and then bowling before school. He was oozing excitement all morning, barely able to contain himself. He told pretty much every one we passed it was is "birfday" and you could see it was physically impossible for him to stop chatting and bouncing.

He was gifted an Angry Birds shirt and tie on Sunday and saved it for just this occasion. This picture pretty much sums up our morning:

When we got to the bowling alley we were assigned lane 5. How exciting for the 5 year old birthday boy! The guy working apparently has some social problems as he refused to say happy birthday to the bouncing birthday boy who was FIVE and put in lane FIVE!! This guy didn't seem to understand the magnitude of this coincidence. Nevertheless, the sourpuss behind the counter couldn't ruin our collective good mood so we went off towards lane 5 and got our bowl on.

Simon insisted that he wanted to play a second game, but by the third round he spotted the slushy machine and his interest shifted quickly and wholeheartedly in that direction. So despite the fact that we drove 20 minutes to our nearest Outpost after breakfast to buy natural food coloring for his birthday cake, we let him have a bright red slushy and he was very happy about this decision. 

I wish these last two photos would have turned out better...they showed so much of his excitement! Oh well. One day I'll learn the art of action shots :)

After our morning o' fun, Bryan, Simon and I went to work, school and Run Like a Mother meetings, respectively. I set myself up for a whirlwind after I returned home since we were having family over for dinner and cake, and nothing was done (presents were not even wrapped). To add to the self-induced chaos, I decided to juice a beet to make food coloring for the Angry Bird cake. It actually worked awesome, except it just added mess to my kitchen and the Angry Bird was bright purple rather than red. Simon thought it was super cool anyways. Thanks to a little editing, this picture makes it look like the right color...

The color in the below picture is how it actually turned out...the eyes and eyebrows were colored with cocoa powder and resembled nice little poop nuggets. Ha. It all tasted good, even it if didn't look quite perfect :) I must say my cake decorating skills (and patience for it) has really gone downhill over the past few years!

It was finally time to sing and blow out the candles, which was quickly followed by gifts and BED. Simon was lucky to have both sets of grandparents, all of his aunties and all of his cousins at his birthday party (only his uncle was missing) on his actual birthday.

I accidentally bought trick candles, which was a TERRIBLE idea seeing as it's cold and flu season. So I think we enjoyed a spit covered cake, hopefully not full of spreadable illnesses!!

All around it was a very full day, happy day. I think the boy enjoyed every second :)


So who is Simon as a five year old?

  • Is quick to tell his parents and sister he loves them and does this all the time.
  • Amazes me with Cecilia. No jealously, just pure love. Seriously, best big brother ever.
  • Likes to watch TV particularly in the morning. His current favorites are Johnny Test, Dragon Tales and Mario. Super hero shows might be on his favorite list too, but they are banned because he is influenced way too easily by them (he doesn't seem to miss them too much anyway).
  • Loves to get caught being naughty; it seems to give him a genuine thrill which is slightly concerning. You should see his face light up when he gets caught stealing my phone. God, I hope this doesn't translate into an "adventurous" teenager (at the rate we're going, it feels like we're going to find out what he is like as a teenager in the blink of an eye).
  • Goes to bed pretty easily, but sometimes will sneak downstairs and jump into the living room with nothing but pure "I got you!" joy on his face and he cracks up. Pouting soon commences when we tell him to go back to bed.
  • Still has fits a toddler could learn a thing or two from.
  • Picks out his own clothes and sometimes you can REALLY tell he did it himself, but I try not to mess with his vision too much. If it were completely up to him, he'd be in jammies all day and I can't blame him (as I sit here in yoga pants and a hoodie and call myself dressed for the day).
  • Reads one to two books a day to me. I'm truly amazed at how far he has come since November. He went from reading a three letter word if he really tried to reading things like "Ten men went to the end of the land. Hand in hand they went," without a problem. Love.
  • Enjoys running down long hallways, like at the Y or my grandma's apartment. He yells "EXCUSE ME!" if anyone is in his path and is confused about why they don't get out of his way because he said excuse me (I try to explain that people don't usually have time to process his words because he barrels through them too quickly so he should go ahead and STOP doing this). 
  • Is 100% independent when it comes to going potty and surprisingly enough, we don't deal with many skid marks if you know what I mean.
  • Will play with and talk with anyone young or old, but he is afraid to ask a person's name. His social anxiety starts and ends here as far as I can tell...he's a CONFIDENT little guy, just ask him.
  • Likes to be "warmy" and will snuggle under a blanket with you any time.
  • Loves to play with the neighbor kids and his cousins more than anything. 
  • Jumps off the coffee table ALL THE TIME. Seems like something I should stop him from doing, but I can't come up with a great reason not to other than "just because."
  • Likes to drink "lemon water" or "ice cold water" the most. In his unprompted words, "I think I'm allergic to soda because it gives me a tummy ache so if someone tries to give it to me I'll just say no." Atta boy :)

Simon, if I've said it once I've said it a million times...I love you more than you will ever know. You've brought immeasurable joy to our life over the past five years and I am so proud and happy and blessed to be your mother. 

Happy Birthday, Buddy :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Breaking News: White Woman does Black Hair

Cecilia and I were at the grocery store and we turned right to head down the detergent aisle; we quickly saw it was occupied by a thirty something African American woman and her grandmother. I got one glimpse at the younger woman and for some reason I just had a feeling. Mother's intuition?

We shop at a grocery store where white folks are generally the minority (or at least only about half of the population at any given time), so passing by AA individuals is commonplace. This made me nervous once upon a time because I was always waiting for someone to say something to the effect of, "What is a white woman doing with a black baby?!" and so on and so forth. As it turns out, nobody cares. Wouldn't you know it! Usually I just see people of all colors smile at the little baby with all that hair and we all go about our business.

I've read a lot online about white families with brown babies and the things strangers have said about their child's hair in particular. I've heard of a lot of women getting unsolicited advice and they are unsure how to take it. When C was an itty bitty the check-in woman at the doctor's office said a few times to "get advice," and it made me wonder if she thought her hair looked bad already somehow. In hindsight I think she just meant to get advice.

So anyway, we were walking down the aisle and this woman asked, "Who does her hair for you?" I was happy to shock them and say "I do." It's slightly insulting that she would just assume I was incapable, but it was such a compliment at the very same time. She proceeded to give me tons of unsolicited advice, which I took graciously since all of her advice was peppered with flattery. She didn't tell me a single thing I didn't already know about AA hair care, which further solidified that I do know what the hell I am doing with my baby...because she is my baby.

So it happened. I got gobs of unsolicited hair advice and lived to tell the tale. I didn't cry. I didn't feel like I wasn't good enough for this beautiful girl (seriously, look at that face). I didn't get defensive. I just let her give me her "advice" and walked away knowing I was just fine without it.